Hospital length of stay and nutritional status

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Purpose of review

This review looks at the recent medical literature on the association between hospital length of stay and nutritional status.

Recent findings

Simple anthropometric parameters underestimate the nutritional risk in hospitalized patients. The Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool and Nutritional Risk Screening are simple screening tools that identify patients who require further monitoring. Recent weight loss appears to be the most important single indicator of nutritional status. Body composition measurements identify patients with muscle mass depletion and excess body fat, both of which are significantly associated with increased length of stay. The Subjective Global Assessment is useful at detecting patients with established malnutrition and the Mini Nutritional Assessment for the elderly is useful at detecting patients who need preventive nutritional measures. The Nutritional Risk Index, which incorporates albumin and weight loss, appears to capture both nutritional risk and poor clinical outcome.


Nutritional risk is associated with the length of stay in hospital. The choice of nutritional screening and assessment tools depends on the type of institution (university hospital versus community hospital), the patient populations (acute care versus intermediary care; general hospital versus elderly population) and the resources available.

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